Without doubt paradise is here. The place has everything for the people who are in search of happiness. The place of Sonamarg has enough for the lovers of nature. Many places in and around here are either having religious significance or are tourist attractions. Sonamarg, approx.90 kms from Srinagar, and Thajwas Glacier therein (6.0 kms from Sonamarg) are really magnificent.
One can have peace after leaving behind the bustle of the busy roads of the city. On reaching Thajwas one can have immediate look on the glaciers all around. One feels overwhelmed on seeing the exciting view of the snow clad mountain peaks on one hand and thick forest cover on the other hand. The stream of water passing all along the area gushing down from the glaciers adds to the beauty of this place. There are a few make shift vendors which provide to the needs of the visiting people. I recall, a decade before when I visited the same place these vendors would provide local Kashmiri food items but now junk food has reached and replaced native food items. The magnificent glacier lies almost one kilometer ahead from the place where one is dropped by the pony wallas. One can also reach to this place on foot. The area on one side is mountainous and after crossing it over, one can see open ground, covered with wild grasses and flowers and water streams running through it. The place is so attractive that even after spending days together here, you are never tired. A good number of people can be seen doing photography. Many people are seen to be ready to go ahead to feel the glacier with their hands.
During the last decade, in the wake of growing tourism industry, many hotels and restaurants in the adjoining areas have come up. These hotels and restaurants have facilitated more and more tourist inflow to explore the entire place of Sonamarg.
Thajwas is so beautiful that one can hardly resist seeing it again and again. Every nature lover must visit this spectacular place. But at the same time these nature lovers have a moral duty to preserve the beauty and serenity of the place. Unfortunately every passerby through this place enjoys himself selfishly least caring for maintenance of the place. As a result poly products can be seen floating here and there everywhere. To add to the misery of the area, a concrete track made up of stones embedded in the concrete cement has been constructed, which may likely facilitate the vehicular movement up to the Thajwas area (where glaciers exist) in near future. If it happens, it will destroy the natural landscape of the area and also will pose serious threat to the wild life which exists in the area. And that day may not be far off when these glaciers will become like fairy tales. Places like Thajwas are certainly beautiful and should be enjoyed to full but in its natural and wild form. Such places should not be exposed to the vagaries of the human intervention.
These glaciers and meadows are always standing on the threshold where they remain under threat even if small disturbances occur. If the tourist inflow remains unchecked neglecting the carrying capacity of these places, they would surely be devastating the places.
The glacier at the Thajwas which I had seen a decade back was large as compared to what I saw now. There are many more aspects which needed to be elaborated and discussed. In a nut shell I would like to suggest that the livelihood of Kashmir depends upon the glaciers and meadows. This piece of information based on the recent visit to the area impresses upon every citizen to endeavor of protecting the glaciers.
Dr. Mubashir Jeelani is an environmentalist and can be mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org